While Vermont is ranked by the FBI as the safest state in the country, a proposed law would add a layer of gun regulation to a state in which most people don't need a license to carry a firearm. Not surprisingly, a heated gun control debate in Vermont has resulted.
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FBI statistics show that 115 violent crimes are committed per 100,000 people in the state, compared to the rate of 368 violent crimes per 100,000 people nationwide. But a bill before the legislature would expand background checks for private gun sales and for gun shows. It also would make it illegal in the state for a convicted felon to carry a firearm, even though that's already a federal law.
In February 2015, hundreds of citizens descended upon the Statehouse in Montpelier to debate whether S.B. 31 was needed. Here are five quotes from the impassioned gun control debate in Vermont:
1. “Every day in our state, guns are being used in domestic relationships to threaten women and children. It can just take a gun on the coffee table to equal a lifetime of living in fear. Because of the loophole in our criminal background check system, right now abusers can go online, find an unlicensed seller and meet up with them in the parking lot, and buy a gun — no questions asked." — Ann Braden, of Gun Sense Vermont, quoted in VT Digger.
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2. "This is a bill that has been discussed for the last couple of years. I understand it is a very touchy and sensitive issue. This is not to take away rights or guns from law abiding citizens. It has everything to do with people that probably should not have guns like violent felons." — John Campbell, Democratic state senator who is one of the bill's sponsors, said in the Burlington Free Press.
3. "I think it's a result of years and years of Vermonters respecting guns as a tool to manage wildlife and to put food on the table. That's what motivates us to own a gun. It's not necessarily what motivates someone who lives in Manhattan to own a gun." — Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin on why a liberal-minded state is so pro-guns rights, speaking to the Burlington Free Press.
4. “It’s not designed to take guns away from anyone. But it says guns are serious things. If you want a gun, you need a background check.” — Philip Baruth, the Democratic state senate majority leader, said in an article by the Portland Press Herald.
5. "No more gun control bills. We don't need them in the safest state in the nation." — Bill Moore of Vermont Traditions Coalition told the Burlington Free Press.
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